Marcus Tatum has had a tumultuous three seasons on Rocky Top. He was a three-star in the 2016 recruiting class, another find by Butch Jones, but figured to be buried in the depth chart for a couple of years. Then injuries hit, and Tatum was forced to play left tackle in two games as a freshman, starting against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
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He was settling into his role, though, as a sophomore, developing more quickly than usual, before he suffered a season-ending injury and took a medical redshirt. That kept him out of spring ball in 2018 as Jeremy Pruitt came in and installed the pro-style offense. But as he was having to learn on the fly during the year, Trey Smith’s blood clots forced him back into the starting lineup.
Now, though, Tatum finally has a full offseason along with experience playing in one system, even if the offensive coordinator changed again, this time to Jim Chaney. His 6’6″ 316-pound size and veteran presence make him the one tackle Tennessee football can rely on.
After all, Smith’s health is a question, and he could play guard. Wanya Morris is the breakout freshman from the spring, but he’s still a freshman. Darnell Wright has all the hype, but he is also a freshman and was not an early enrollee. So Tatum is the anchor for the Vols at tackle right now, and he got better throughout last season.
As a result, Tatum is the top three-star recruit on this roster. It’s a guarantee he’ll be in the offensive line rotation, even if he doesn’t technically start. We know that unit goes about eight-deep. And Tatum has been a great developmental story. Now, fully healthy, he’s a mark of reliability for the unit up front on the outside.